Do I qualify for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in San Diego County?

January 19, 2012

More than 5,000 phone calls of domestic violence are reported to the domestic violence hotline in San Diego County per year. It is a serious problem that has life threatening consequences. It is estimated that there are thousands of domestic violence incidents that go unreported in San Diego alone. There are many different forms of domestic violence that go unreported because victims don't realize they qualify for a domestic violence restraining order.

A restraining order is an order made by the Family Court to protect victims, children and families from abuse (physical, emotional, verbal, sexual), threats of abuse, stalking and harassment. The abuse can be spoken, written or physical. In order to qualify for a domestic violence restraining order you must have a "relationship" with the abuser. You qualify if you are married, divorced, separated, registered domestic partners, have children together, are dating or used to date, living together or used to live together with the abuser.

You may qualify if you have experienced any of the following types of abuse:

* Emotional - verbal abuse, isolation from friends and family, humiliation
* Psychological - threats, stalking, intimidation by fear or force, harassment
* Economic - not allowing you to have transportation, work, credit or insurance
* Legal threats - false accusations, deportation, reporting crime or calling police
* Physical - scratching, hitting, kicking, pushing, choking, spiting, use of weapons
* Sexual - coerced sex, physical force, threats, making you watch pornography

The first step is filing for a temporary restraining order which usually takes less than 24 hours to get from the Judge. If a temporary restraining order is granted, you and your family will be protected until the hearing for a permanent restraining order which is usually set for three weeks from when the temporary order was issued. Things you may ask for in the temporary restraining order include: child custody, child support, spousal support, for the abuser to move out of your home and turn over all guns/weapons to the authorities, to have no contact with you or your children, rights to property, right to record future communications, and for the abuser to complete a Batter's Intervention Program.

Once you attend the hearing for a permanent restraining order, the Judge can issue an order that lasts anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. This is the opportunity for you to get out of the situation and start over. ANY contact with you during the time you have a restraining order is a violation of court order and is taken very seriously. If the abuser tries to contact you, you call the police and tell them you have a restraining order and they will take care of it. Phone calls, texts, e-mails, drive-bys, showing up anywhere you are or contacting your family are all violations of the restraining order. Sending you flowers at work or mailing you an apology letter are also violations of the restraining order. An abuser may be arrested for multiple violations.

It is important to get help right away and to record all communications or physical evidence of abuse. One thing to consider is developing a personal safety plan. This way you can be prepared for a dangerous situation if it arises in the future. There are several things you can do to ensure your safety. For example, identify a friend or family member that you can call or stay with should the abuser violate the restraining order. Inform employers, co-workers, neighbors and your children's teachers that you have a restraining order in case the abuser shows up where you are. Also, consider putting together a bag of things you would need in case of an emergency such as money, extra clothes, address book, passport and a copy of the restraining order. Keep it in a safe place where you can easily access it quickly. If possible, consider moving from your residence or changing your locks and phone number to make it harder for the abuser to locate you. Also, make multiple copies of the restraining order, so you have a copy in your car, at your work, and other places you might be.

Please don't hesitate; this could save your life. Contact the Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford to help you get a fresh start today. Call (858) 793-8884 to make an appointment with a Certified Family Law Specialist.